Thin Chest Wall Is an Independent Risk Factor for the Development of Pneumothorax after Chest Tube Removal

Anand, Rahul J.; Whelan, James F.; Ferrada, Paula; Duane, Therese M.; Malhotra, Ajai K.; Aboutanos, Michel B.; Ivatury, Rao R.
April 2012
American Surgeon;Apr2012, Vol. 78 Issue 4, p478
Academic Journal
The factors contributing to the development of pneumothorax after removal of chest tube thoracostomy are not fully understood. We hypothesized that development of post pull pneumothorax (PPP) after chest tube removal would be significantly lower in those patients with thicker chest walls, due to the "protective" layer of adipose tissue. All patients on our trauma service who underwent chest tube thoracostomy from July 2010 to February 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. Patient age, mechanism of trauma, and chest Abbreviated Injury Scale score were analyzed. Thoracic CTs were reviewed to ascertain chest wall thickness (CW). Thickness was measured at the level of the nipple at the midaxillary line, as perpendicular distance between skin and pleural cavity. Chest X-ray reports from immediately prior and after chest tube removal were reviewed for interval development of PPP. Data are presented as average ± standard deviation. Ninety-one chest tubes were inserted into 81 patients. Patients who died before chest tube removal (n = 11), or those without thoracic CT scans (n = 13) were excluded. PPP occurred in 29.9 per cent of chest tube removals (20/67).When PPP was encountered, repeat chest tube was necessary in 20 per cent of cases (4/20). After univariate analysis, younger age, penetrating mechanism, and thin chest wall were found to be significant risk factors for development of PPP. Chest Abbreviated Injury Scale score was similar in both groups. Logistic regression showed only chest wall thickness to be an independent risk factor for development of PPP.


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